This is a book review done by my primary reviewer for my NoName Cafe Book Review Corner site that is on temporary hiatus. Cindy Chow is awesome and has been reviewing books for my site for years. Since the Cafe is on hiatus right now thought I would start posting some of her reviews here in my Closet!
Happy reading and good coffee!
DEATH WILL HELP YOU LEAVE HIM
By Elizabeth Zelvin
ISBN: 978-0312582661, 10/09
Review by Cindy Chow
Death Will Help You Leave Him is a story of addictions. Each characters battles his or her own addiction, be it to alcohol, drugs, love, sex, being needed, or, helpful for this novel, an addiction to investigating. Bruce Kohler is nine months sober and working as a temporary paralegal when his best friend’s girlfriend Barbara’s addiction to helping others has the three on a mission of mercy to aid her Al-Anon sponsee Luz, who apparently just discovered the body of her boyfriend in her apartment. The beautiful women had been unable to refrain from loving or leaving the abusive victim, and the fact that Luz has been a little recalcitrant with the truth to everyone has her as the number one suspect on the police suspect list. With considerable pressure from Barbara, Bruce finds himself a little too eager to investigate the dead man’s life, which included drug dealing, several stints in rehab, a bakery-owning family, and most problematic for Luz, a wife. While the addictive high of detecting satisfies some of Bruce’s need for excitement, the reappearance of his bi-polar ex-wife dangerously creates another.
The most compelling aspects of this second novel by Elizabeth Zelvin, a psychotherapist with a strong addiction treatment background, are the addictions of the characters and the various ways they have managed to cope with them. Barbara is impulsive and reckless with her need to constantly help and “fix” other’s problems, Bruce daily battles the desire for alcohol and an attraction to his fragile and reckless ex-wife, and Luz has her own inability to acknowledge the destructiveness of her past relationship. Bruce’s own personal tragedies interweave with his amateurish investigation, and both prove to be realistic and clearly depicted. Despite the somber themes of this mystery, the wry humor of the heroes lighten the tone and make this a very enjoyable read. The characters and their struggles also aid in creating an extremely unique mystery that sucks the reader in and refuses to let go.